If Tobias Jesso Jr’s debut album is anything to go by, it’s been a particularly good year for meticulous historical reproduction. If Tobias ploughed the verdant fields of the seventies balladeers for inspiration then 25-year-old Leon Bridges looks back at least a decade and a half, to a time when heroes like Ben E. Kind, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson roamed the earth.
That’s not to say that this Texan sounds exclusively like those soul artists. Actually, what Leon Bridges’ debut album shows more than anything is that there’s a core rock and roll component in his set up. He never ventures far from the drum/bass/guitar/vocals and, for the most part, it comes closer to the purest form of R&B as distilled by Chuck Berry.
‘Flowers’ and ‘Twistin and Groovin’ are pure Chuck – sure to have all the couples swing dancing at his shows. Meanwhile the singles ‘Coming Home’, ‘Better Man’ and ‘Lisa Sawyer’ remain untampered with. The biggest and best surprises to come from the new songs are ‘Smooth Sailin’ and ‘River’. The former is a groovy jazzy number with a disembodied guitar solo while the latter is an acoustic performance that smells of mud from banks of the Mississippi Delta.
Leon Bridges has achieved a highly commendable debut album. There’s not a single dud song in the set and there’s nothing premeditated about it. Leon, you’re all soul.
Live: Rough Trade East – July 14th (free – 7pm)